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Commissioners to donate pay raises

January 05, 2009|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- The members of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners have joined the county's other elected officials in deciding to donate their cost-of-living increases for 2009 to charities or back to county government.

The 3 percent increase for elected officials for 2009 was set several years ago by a previous board, and would have increased the commissioners' gross salaries from $65,362 to $67,322.

Chairman Bob Thomas said he would donate the net increase for 2009 to the Franklin County Therapeutic Riding Center, Franklin County Head Start, Franklin County United Way, Meals on Wheels, The Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity.

Commissioner David Keller said he will donate his increase to the county's Drug and Alcohol Program. Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski said he will donate $125 a month to the Franklin County Shelter for the Homeless and Waynesboro Area Human Services, to be distributed through the United Way.

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"This is a personal call, not an action by the Board of Commissioners," Thomas said.

Citizens for Responsible Government President Allen Piper has been calling for the board members to return the increases and did again today when the board set salaries for employees and elected officials.

Piper told the commissioners they should not "place yourselves above the interests of the people you represent." He further asked that the county's top administrators also forego salary increases this year.

"It's a personal decision" as to what employees do with their cost-of-living increases, Thomas said. While elected officials received 3 percent increases, the county's more than 900 employees received 4 percent increases for 2009.

"The actual increase in most cases is less than 4 percent," Ziobrowski said. That is because the county's health insurance costs went up about $700,000 for this year, and county employees are paying for more than half of that through higher premiums and co-payments, he said.

Most employees will see their paychecks go up 2 percent or less, Ziobrowski said.

The county has 158 salaried positions, Human Resources Director John Aguirre said. The salaries range from a low of about $40,000 for the director of custodial services to $94,000 for the manager/director of information services, according to the roster of personnel listed by the Human Resources Department.

The county elected officials who came in for salary actions for their offices today said they also were giving back their increases. While Thomas said he felt no political pressure to give back his increase, Sheriff Dane Anthony, when asked the same question, said, "Yeah."

"Everyone is giving back and I feel I should give back also," Anthony said. His net increase will likely go to The Salvation Army or Women in Need, he said.

District Attorney John F. Nelson said he would donate his increase to the United Way. Others, such as Clerk of Courts William Vandrew, Treasurer David Secor and Controller Carol Diller indicated they would write checks to the county based on their net increases.

Democratic Jury Commissioner William Butts indicated that he and his counterpart, Republican Allen Twigg, also would be giving back their increases.

How much that would be per pay period has yet to be determined, several of the row officers said.

Secor, a Pennsylvania State Police retiree, takes no county benefits, while others have county health insurance. The cost of the coverage can vary greatly, whether a person has coverage for just themselves or their families, and which level of coverage they choose.

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